Religion & the Roots of Liberal Democracy


event-image-150722The CIS is pleased to welcome Professor Robert D Woodberry who is visiting Australia from the National University of Singapore where he is Director of the university’s Project on Religion and Economic Change.

Professor Woodberry will examine the relationship between religion and democracy in the processes of post-Enlightenment modernisation. In particular, he will discuss the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, and consider their contribution to the formation of stable democracies.

Robert Woodberry is Director of the Project on Religion and Economic Change (PREC) and an Associate Professor of political science at National University of Singapore. For 2015 he is Visiting Fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at University of Notre Dame USA.  His research analyzes the long-term roots of education, mass printing, economic development and democracy in former colonies. Other interests include religious influences on political institutions and the economy and the international diffusion of social movements and printing. Supported by a large grant from the Templeton Foundation he built a global, geo-spatial database of virtually all Protestant and Catholic missionary activity, education, and medical work from the mid-19th to md-20th centuries, connected detailed measures of colonial history, climate, terrain and geography.

His publications include “Sociology of Religion” (2012) with Christian Smith in The Blackwell Companion to Sociology, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy.” American Political Science Review (2012), “Missions and Economics” (2007), “The Economic Consequences of Pentecostalism” Society (2006), and Researching Spiritual Capital: Promises and Pitfalls (2003). A current project “Aid That Works: Missionaries, Economic Development and the ‘Reversal of Fortunes’.”

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